Sunday, May 27, 2012

London






At the end of my last entry here I was about to go through customs and immigration at Heathrow. I got through OK even though I could not remember the exact address of the London Temple, where I would be staying for a for a week. Filling in the immigration card, I had learned through experience, is a pretty straight forward affair, as long as you have an address that you will be staying at in the country you are entering. Last time I went to London I didn't have an address as I was staying with a friend (Neil Kearney) who lived there at the time. I had to convince the immigration official that there was a friend meeting me at the airport who I would be staying with and I didn't need to know his address as Neil did know his address and would take me straight there!

Anyway, this time filling out the card, I got thrown a bit as I was sure I had the address of the London Temple written down somewhere, but do you think I could find it? So I just sort of made it up from the bits and pieces I could remember. Was it Whitechapel Rd, New Haven or Newchapel Rd Whitehaven or something else. Whatever it was that I wrote down was good enough (checking later I discovered I was only vaguely near it) and through I went in to the area where most people seem to have someone waiting for them. Not me!

Getting from Heathrow to the Temple was a challenge. I later learned that the Temple is only a 15 minute drive from Gatwick Airport and I had flown to Gatwick instead, the whole exercise would have been much cheaper and easier.

With advice from some public transport staff I caught a bus to Kingston. I was assured that someone at Kingston would help me get to the Temple. No one could help. It was cold, wet and windy and no one could help me. I did what any good Aussie bloke travelling in London would do. I went to Marks and Spencer and bought a coat! That solved one problem. I then found a taxi rank and made a taxi drivers day. Half an hour later and about 99.00 pound poorer, I was at the London Temple.

The London Temple is on about 32 acres of land on West Park Rd, Newchapel, Surrey RH7 6HW. It is in what I would consider typical English countryside. Green fields, narrow roads and hedges. There is cheap accommodation at the Temple, which you do need to book in advance, and the only "catch" is that you need to do at least one Temple session per day.
The London LDS Temple at dusk

Various shots of East Grinstead
So there I was, in the beautiful English countryside, with a room that was about 200 metres from the front door of the Temple, and basically nothing to do for a week until Margot, Miriam and Josie arrived from the States. I did lots of sessions, way more than the one per day required. I went to the nearest town, East Grinstead, a couple of times for shopping and just looking around.  I ate at the the Thai restaurant, just around the corner from the Temple, three nights (but not in a row), and that was about it really.

Interior of the Thai restaurant. Great food!


Road to East Grinstead

I made one good friend at the Temple. Gerald is a retired electronics repair man, who with his wife, is serving a Temple Mission. I don't have a picture of him and I cannot even remember his surname now. But on my second day at the Temple he drove me and some sisters to the Sainsburys supermarket in East Grinstead. I saw him most days in the Temple and then on the Sunday he drove me to Church. Meeting me on the first day he said he felt he owed me something, simply because I was an Australian. He was old enough to have heard stories of Australian military service men who helped fight to protect England in the WWII. He has always felt he owed a debt of gratitude to Australians. He offered to drive me to Gatwick Airport on Monday morning so that I could then get a bus to Heathrow Airport to meet Margot, Miriam and Josie. I tried to give him money for petrol but he refused. But when he drove me to the airport I was able to slip a present (a Papermate or Parker pen) in to a bag of leftover groceries that I gave him.

I was very anxious about getting to the airport in time to meet everyone. It has been two weeks since I had seen them. We had been in touch via email and Skype, but it was difficult at times with the time difference. They had been to the reunion in Salt Lake, travelled across to Nauvoo by train, gone to Niagara Falls, Palmyra, Kirtland and Detroit all without me. It was meant to be a family holiday and I had spent months planning it.

I arrived at the airport about 2 hours before I needed to be there. I was watching the announcement boards constantly. Why was it taking so long? Had something happened to their flight? They had flown from Chicago to Dusseldorf and then had to fly back to London. Eventually their flight landed and luggage started coming off. Finally they came through the doors!

Miriam leading the way!



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